A notice of motion proposed by Councillor Baird, seconded by Alderman Hillis received unanimous support last night at the Environmental Services Committee to set a target of planting 100,000 trees over this council term.
The final decision will go before the full council in April.
Last year The Woodland Trust called all local authorities across the UK to produce Trees and Woodland Strategy as part of their Local Plan.
The notice of motion read;
“It is now clear from empirical evidence that we face a global climate change challenge. The Earth’s atmosphere is warming at a fast rate and while we must continue to reduce our carbon emissions we can help redress the problem by conserving and planting many more trees. A tree can store 48 lbs of carbon dioxide in one year and sequester 1ton of CO2 by the time it reaches 40 years old. Sadly Northern Ireland has the lowest tree coverage in the UK at only 8%.
Reforestation a very effective solution in mitigation of the impending climate crisis and as a Council I propose that we set a target of planting 100,000 trees over this term of Council in our Borough. I further propose that we ask other Councils to join us and make it 1Million trees across Northern Ireland.
Tree planting on this scale will make a difference with benefits not only to store carbon but reduce flooding risk, extend natural habitats and promote physical and mental well being for our citizens.
Council should make tree planting a priority in all environmental schemes and involve all our Communities including farmers and business in this strategy to ensure inclusivity, commitment and success. Funding may be obtained from a variety of sources such as the newly announce National Lottery Community Fund which is directed specifically at climate change. Commitment to tree planting will make a huge difference and I urge you to back this motion and ask other Councils to join with us in improving the environment in Northern Ireland.”
Earlier this month DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA said that he wrote to Ministerial colleagues and Chief Executives of local Councils seeking their support and commitment to make public land available for tree planting. He also said that he plans to establish an Afforestation Forum to develop an action plan for increasing afforestation and would oversee it personally.